We are in a world where light and darkness co-exist. 1
As we aspire to the light, could a doubt take hold of us? Far from worrying about this, a Russian mystic wrote, "I am a child of doubt and unbelief... My hossana has passed through the crucible of doubt." 2
Happy are those who walk from doubt towards the brightness of a communion in Christ!
Just like the sun dispelling the morning mist, light will shine in the nights of the soul. And springs of cool water will well up even in the deserts of the heart.
Not an illusory communion but a clear-headed one, that impels us to act in the midst of real-life situations. It leads us above all to understand and to love. 3
Life is filled with serene beauty for whoever strives to love with compassion.
If we were to lose compassion, the inner fire of an inexhaustible kindness, what would be left? 4
Compassion touches the depths of our being. It re-awakens innocence in our heart of hearts. It enables us to see others as they are.
Whoever chooses to love, and to say it by their life, will one day be led to ask themselves one of the most essential questions of all: how can human suffering be alleviated, the suffering of the innocent, whether close at hand or far away? 5
Even with very little faith,6 can we realize that God has a call for each of us? The Gospel helps us to understand that there is no greater love than to go to the extreme of self-giving. 7
When God calls us to a vocation for a whole lifetime, he invites us to remain in it always. 8 And if obstacles arise, we will be surprised to find ourselves praying: Holy Spirit, you are the guardian of a lifelong vocation; give me what I need not to stop along the way. 9
Could a doubt come welling up? The desire for God does not vanish for all that. Four centuries after Christ, a believer wrote down his conviction: "If you desire to see God, you already have faith." 10
If we have the simple desire to welcome God's presence, a flame is kindled in the depths of our being. 11
Is this flame of love sometimes only a pale glimmer?12 The incredible thing is that it keeps on burning. An inner reality, this flame enables us to keep going through long nights in almost total darkness. 13
And a kind of about-face occurs within us... the Gospel comes to change both our life and our heart.
When we are assailed by glumness, boredom and disenchantment, there is a choice to be made.14 It consists in making ourselves ready to undertake an inner reorientation; it leads to a Gospel joy.15
We surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit, entrusting everything to him again and yet again; and hope, the dynamism of love, springs to life again.16
In a world where light and darkness co-exist, there are men, women, young people and children who are bearers of light in the human family.17 Their mere presence is creative; it radiates outward, even if they are totally unaware of it.
They love, and they express it by their lives. They open their eyes to the anguish of the innocent, children or young people marked by broken relationships.18 They wish to be in solidarity with so many young people whose future is uncertain.19
They live in the spirit of these words spoken almost three thousand years ago: "God has in mind plans for peace and not for misfortune; he wants a future for us."20
Despite their minimal resources, they seek to take on responsibilities for preparing around themselves ways of communion and a new future.21
In their striving towards a goal, they are not surprised at the resistances so often linked to the process of creation, to new beginnings.
Knowing the value of a simple life, they wish to be attentive to simplicity, always simplicity.
Some of them respond to the call to a life in community. If they let themselves be penetrated by Gospel freshness, they overturn around themselves the heavy weight of indifference and weariness.
One night, a man called Nicodemus came to visit Jesus. He learned from him that without "being born again," no one can see the realities of God.22 Reconciliation and forgiveness are among those pure wellsprings that lead to a new birth.
Whoever seeks reconciliation with all their energy discovers that there is a "before" as well as an "after."
There is a "before" for those who, wounded by many humiliations, think: I will not manage to forgive and to be reconciled. But one day they start to consider: if I refuse forgiveness, what can I reflect of Christ?23 As they come to have the desire for a reconciliation, they are more concerned to understand others than to convince them by arguments.
And there is an "after" when, reconciled, they experience a new birth. And God comes to heal the secret wound of the soul.
If we were to let ourselves be clothed in forgiveness as in a garment, we would glimpse a transfiguration of our being and the brightness of a communion.
If the love that forgives became a flame burning within us...
If compassionate hearts were at the beginning of everything...
...around us would shine, whether we knew it or not, a Gospel radiance...24
...and these words would be illuminated from within: "Love, and say it by your life!" 25
Love, and say it by your life! Without love, what future is there for Christians?
In the coming years, if we could try to make a multitude of different reconciliations possible around us, in the most diverse situations... They will allow us to enter into the third millenium ready to live an adventure of reconciliation that is as daring as possible.
Without joy and simplicity, those Gospel values so intimately connected to one another, how can we radiate a spirit of forgiveness, not only among believers but with non-believers as well?
What is true for one person is also true for that mystery of communion which is the Body of the risen Christ, his Church.1 When, even with very few resources, the Church welcomes in joy and in an infinite simplicity, it opens wide the gates of mercy and of consolation.2 And the Church becomes what it is at its most transparent, a source of reconciliation, a beacon of love.3
Christ Jesus, source of a communion, you did not come to earth to condemn the world but so that every human being might find a road open through the Holy Spirit. We are astonished to find that no one is excluded either from your love or from your forgiveness. And, risen from the dead, you come to turn us into ferments of peace and reconciliation.